I've trained go-outs a bunch of different ways....food on the gate, visible target, hidden target, retrieve item. I've moved to teaching a touch at the go-out point: paw, nose, shoulder, depends on the dog. After the touch is consistent at short distances, I add an automatic sit. Yes really, I teach the dog to sit automatically after the touch, and I want the dog to sit with their butt touching the target. No matter what kind of ring you're in, there's SOMETHING at the end of the ring....a wall, a ring gate, a stake holding a rope. In this area (NJ) it's almost always a ring gate and stanchion.
In Utility A, 3 of the most common issues with go-outs are 1) the dog not going out far enough (either pulling up short enough to NQ, or short enough to make it difficult to jump) 2) the dog doing corner go-outs (big points off, and the dog better be good at cross-jumping) or 3) the dog goes out, turns around, and immediately heads for a jump (a big fat NQ) . A 4th less serious issue is no-sits on the go-outs (3 point deduction). Dogs that are taught to touch and then sit will, at the very least, end up at the far end of the ring where they will have enough room to jump. This gives the dog a much better chance at qualifying on the exercise. In a trial situation many dogs pull up short of actually touching on the go-out, and if we've already NQ'd an exercise I'll encourage my dog to go all the way out and touch the gate/wall/whatever.
I'm finding that teaching the dog to sit automatically after he touches the stanchion takes a lot of questions out of his mind. I think he's less likely to turn and stand, or turn and automatically head for a jump.
No matter what, the most important thing is to do lots of reps in lots of different places. The more different places you get to, the better and more consistent your go-outs will be.
Hope this makes some sense!
--Regina and the GSDs:
P.A.M. FGDCh Ianna von Sontausen UDX,BH,TD,RE,PT
P.A.M. Monster Mike SchH2,UD,TD,RE,VER,Can/UKC/ASCA CD (8/10 UDX)
von Sontausen Holy Grail (The BUNNY!)